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April 19th, 2024 17:26

What are Inbox drivers v. Out-of-Box Drivers?

Back in the day… Microsoft delivered Windows in a box made of cardboard, containing installation media, floppy, CD’s etc.

  • Inbox Drivers. For each release of Windows, Microsoft includes specific native or ‘inbox’ drivers which passed the hardware requirements for that release. Those drivers are ‘in the box’ or ‘inbox’ > native in Windows.
  • Out-of Box Drivers. Drivers outside of the install media, or ‘Out-of-Box’, also referred to as OEM or third-party, are developed by OEM’s based on Microsoft’s Windows Hardware Compatibility Program.


With each release of Windows, drivers for commonly distributed hardware vendors are built into the OS release, providing native functional ‘inbox’ driver support for hardware that is typically ≥ 1 year its manufacturing date.


When a platform is nearing EOL, the most recent build of Windows will likely have enough ‘inbox’ drivers to boot + network, allowing Windows updates or an application like Dell Command | Update to take care of the remaining ‘out-of box' drivers.


How does this relate to Image Assist?


After imaging a Dell PC using Dell Image Assist & Family Driver Packs, a folder named “Out-of-Box Drivers” exists on the root of the Windows partition. The drivers in that sub-directory are preinstalled into the driver store providing full Plug and Play functionality for hardware in the PC the being restored to, with the exception of peripherally added devices.


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